Hamilton city council has voted 14-2 to request a judicial inquiry into safety concerns involving the Red Hill Valley Parkway, and specifically into how a 2013 report about “friction” levels was buried for more than five years.
Coun. Brad Clark tabled the motion calling for a judicial inquiry on Wednesday night saying the public, and especially families who’ve lost loved ones to crashes on the parkway, need “full transparency.”
Clark says that can only happen “when observers, media and citizens are free to witness the examination of the witnesses and experts.”
The need for transparency and rebuilding of public trust have trumped concerns about a costly and long investigation.
Councillors went against outside legal advice in requesting the judicial inquiry, which they were told could take three years to complete and cost between $2 million and $11 million.
An external lawyer’s report recommended what it says would be the faster and less expensive option of an investigation by either an auditor general or ombudsman.
Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead says those options would not involve witnesses testifying in public. He adds that because of that, neither “answers the call in regards to meeting what the general public in our community expect” from this process.
Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla adds that he doesn’t see the judicial inquiry as an expense, but as “an investment in the most important thing that a government has to offer, and that’s trust.”